Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Hughes’

She’s back!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sorry for the delay. WordPress was refusing to publish my posts for a few days, and that got me out of the habit of daily posting.

However, I’m listening to a new interview with Shirley Hughes, about her Alfie books and her in general!


Non-serious trouble

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Cover of The Trouble with Jack55. The Trouble with Jack by Shirley Hughes

If this list is correct, this is just the second book Hughes produced relatively alone (as both author and illustrator), and I do feel it lacks some of her (later) usual quality. The illustrations don’t seem as integrated into telling the story and the characters fall much more within traditional gender stereotyping in the clothing, interests and behaviour.

Still, while it hasn’t become a new favourite it does still have beautiful pictures and a gentle taking for granted that even siblings who seem lightly antagonistic on a regular basis will also (presuming things haven’t gone too far) have plenty of happy, co-operative moments. I can’t help thinking, though, that they get off very lightly¬†indeed when leaving a rambunctious three-year-old alone with a pretty birthday tea set-up. That was just asking for trouble…

Moving Favourites

Monday, 18 April 2011

Cover of Moving Molly54. Moving Molly by Shirley Hughes

I was excited to find this available to me on BookMooch, as I remembered it fondly from my own childhood, and it didn’t disappoint when reading it to DD. While the pictures and incidents came back to me as I read it, I had forgotten how relatively long this story is; DD seemed quiet and attentive for the whole thing however, which I was impressed with.

While the core of the story is Molly and her family moving from one home to another, there is far more to this than a simple, “Molly and her family were moving house. A van came to move their furniture. See their new house and garden.” Instead we have a much more nuanced tale of a roughly-four-years-old child’s perspective on the old home and what it was like there, what the actual moving day (and the ones before and after it) entails, and her finding a place and activities for herself in the new one.

In my opinion the story here is good, but it’s the pictures which make it great. They tell significant parts of the tale, and give much fertile ground to go further into it. (Oh, Molly’s parents and she herself are keen gardeners, although her elder brother and sister aren’t shown to have much interest in plants.)

While this might well be useful in getting a child used to some of the issues involved in moving house, it’s well worth the read even if you never do (and my mother still lives in the house we had when I was born).

Mousing around

Thursday, 14 April 2011
Cover of the first edition of The Tale of Two ...

Image via Wikipedia

56. The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter

Like many of Potter’s books, this is firmly rooted in the culture and behaviours of its time – more so than some of the most famous of them, in fact. I’m not convinced I’d actually seen a copy of this particular one before, although most of the titles are familiar to me. As with some of the others, while in the beginning of the book the starring animals are fairly naturalistic in their behaviour, they seek out more human clothing and appurtenances, and by the end are living quite anthropomorphised lives. In this one we don’t see any humans directly, with interaction being mediated by a pair of dolls whose house the mice ransack. From the title onwards we are shown the negatives in their behaviour, while the mice are however given the chance to show that they are not trying to do wrong, but acting in an appropriate manner for them (little though the humans may like it), and even trying to make some kind of amends at the end.

As with Shirley Hughes, Beatrix Potter fully integrates her beautiful, distinctive and fairly lifelike illustrations into the story. A good author-illustrator can do wonders with picture books!

Hearing the World

Monday, 14 March 2011

I’m going to stick with more simple discussions of books for the very young for now.

Cover of Noisy

Cover of Noisy

23. Noisy by Shirley Hughes

This is a rhythmic and (being Shirley Hughes) beautifully illustrated evocation of the noises in the life of a young girl and her baby brother. As she plays in and watches the world the parents are in the background doing the housework (both mother and father) and occasionally trying to relax (usually when the kids are at their loudest).

Each square page is mostly filled with a single illustration, each with one or two lines of text to go with it and the size seems nice for sharing with a small number of children. I’m not sure a large group would get much out of the pictures, although it might still work well as lead-in to a discussion of other noises in their world.

Happy days

Monday, 14 February 2011

While my baby’s still sick (although out of hospital) I don’t feel like discussing novels of death and destruction, so for the first time I’m going to skip around in the 2011 reading list and go straight to a fun and friendly children’s book.

Cover of Here Comes Charlie Moon

Cover of Here Comes Charlie Moon

20. Here Comes Charlie Moon by Shirley Hughes

I’ve been looking out for some of Hughes’ beautiful books for very young children, but came across this novel of hers first, and thought I’d see what it’s like. I’d expected illustrations, and in fact every single page of this chapter book has a unique and appropriate picture at the top, but the story isn’t bad either.

Charlie Moon lives with his Mum in a big city, and to save him being bored underfoot over the summer, she sends him to stay with his Auntie Jean, who runs a joke shop in a Welsh seaside resort, Penwyn Bay. His older cousin Ariadne (12 years old to his 10) is similarly staying with their aunt, and while the two wind each other up a bit they’re really very good companions and then friends. Neither Auntie Jean nor her neighbour and ex-colleague Carlo Cornetto are doing all that well at their tourism-based businesses, since the other end of the bay is where the modern attractions are, but Charlie and Ariadne still manage to make themselves some friends, foil the local bullies, and help to revive their Auntie’s and Mr Cornetto’s businesses through a series of quite plausible adventures.

At a guess, this’d be a good one for 8-12 year olds to read themselves (boys or girls), and good for reading aloud so long as everyone’s close enough to see the line drawings, which aren’t all that large.